What does ‘GM’ stand for? General Motors? Good manners? Gooey marshmallow? Nope. None of those. At Notre Dame, GM can only mean one thing: Gym Meet. And who better to explain what it all means than present day Gym Meeters? So without further ado, Bluenote welcomes guest bloggers, junior, Natalie Pucillo, Class of 2015 and sophomore, Erin Shoul, Class of 2016.
By Natalie Pucillo ‘15
At the end of February, Gym Meet seems to be all that the NDP community can talk about. I know that as a student, Gym Meet is one of the best times of the school year. However, if you aren’t a past or present student of Notre Dame, Gym Meet might seem a bit out of the ordinary. What is Gym Meet, and what makes it so special to girls?
First of all, I should take a moment to describe what Gym Meet is. Gym Meet is a competition between the four high school classes. It consists of a poster competition, a march routine, songs, and a dance and aerobics routine. In the beginning of the school year, class meetings are held to pick a Gym Meet theme. Then, committees are picked, and they spend weeks after school to create the most fantastic routines for the class.
Then, Gym Meet week begins. Wednesday morning really starts the spirit of Gym Meet. In the morning, girls come to school early to decorate their class’ area of the gym and to unveil the posters. Then, in the afternoon, every class runs through all of their routines at a dress rehearsal. Girls cheer, clap, and scream for their sisters in other classes as they run through their routines. No matter what class rivalries there may be, all come together for the first day of this magical week.
Thursday afternoon is Mini Meet for incoming students and alumni. This day is one of the best for the school community. Girls come to school in their tunics and class colors. Everyone has her camera to document the day. Pigtails and tiny buns are in every girl’s hair, and ribbons in pink, orange, and blue are EVERYWHERE. It’s a beautiful sight. After Mini Meet is over, the seniors also have a chance to decorate the campus. This year, window paint, film strips, and a giant sign with the question, “Who says you can’t repeat the past?” adorned campus.
Finally, it is Gym Meet night. The party in the cafeteria is one of the best of the year. Each class has its own section of the cafeteria. This section is adorned with posters and artwork in class colors. The classes may have separate sections, but even so, the barriers are erased because girls run through the entire cafeteria to take pictures with their NDP sisters and give presents to each other. Gym Meet night is one of the best of the year to many. As Mary Tipton ’14 said, “It’s the moment where all of the talk about sisterhood turns into something real. I feel really connected to my class in the cafeteria on Gym Meet night.”
However, no matter how great the party is, conversation always comes back to the competition. This year, competition was strong in all four grades. Seniors won the song and march plaques, juniors took the aerobics plaque, and even the sophomores finished strong with the dance plaque. The freshmen also put up a fight, but in the end, the Silver Cup went to the senior class.
Honestly, Gym Meet is one of the best times of the year. It’s a difficult tradition to understand if you don’t go to NDP, but if you did or if you have, you know that it is absolutely wonderful. I think that the Junior class captain, Dana Caspari, summed it up best when she said, “Gym Meet is so fun for me because it never ceases to amaze me just how much our class (and every class) can do and how great the final products always are. Gym Meet brings people together so much and provides an opportunity for the talents in our class to shine and be supported by the whole grade.”
by Erin Shoul, ’16
The week I had been waiting for, for months, had finally arrived… Gym Meet Week. For me, the week of Gym Meet is the most exciting and stressful time of the year. It is filled with class colors galore, spirit that radiates from girl to girl, and an infectious sense of NDP pride. I love this time of year because it brings out the sense of camaraderie and spirit that all NDP girls share.
To begin the week, we start with large workloads of work and the intense anticipation for the weekend to come. Finally, Wednesday comes around and the beginning of the Gym Meet excitement begins. Wednesday dress rehearsal is the very first time we get to present our hard work to an audience. That whole day I can remember the feeling of apprehension. It was the first time that I would ever get to put on my elf costume and dance around with Christmas spirit and march together with my class in front of an audience. Dress rehearsal time finally arrived and at 1:30 we all packed into the New Gym. This day is very special because it is really the only time each class gets to see the other classes’ performances in their entirety. One of my favorite performances was the freshmen’s, because it was the first time they were coming together as a class. Their smiles were from ear to ear, their Keds were bright white, and their spirit shone brightly. Even though it was only our first rehearsal I also loved watching how much the juniors had improved since watching them as freshman, and watching the seniors, our big sisters, roar through the twenties.
Then the next spirit filled day began. Mini Meet has always been a favorite day because all day we get to represent our class pride by wearing our class colors and tunic. The school radiates with color and smiles on this day as everyone prepares to show Alums, incoming students, and teachers how much improvement has been made since the previous day. The difference was remarkable. This day is also particularly intense because it is the last time we get to perform before the long awaited Gym Meet Night.
The anticipated night then arrived. I could barely pay attention to anything but dance moves and march commands all day. I went home with friends where we, as tradition, got ready together and took millions of pictures. At 7:15 we arrived in the cafeteria full of energetic girls. I had waited for this day for months. The energy, spirit, and sisterhood in the cafeteria is unforgettable. Stepping into the packed cafeteria brought back memories from freshman year but also brought along the hope and excitement for the Gym Meet events to follow.
The whole night was filled with excitement and dancing, interspersed by intense performances of dance, aerobics, march and song. We first went out for march and song. This was an especially special time for me because I am co-chair of the march committee. It was such a proud moment for me to see my entire class working together precisely to create something amazing. We then after an hour of doing hair and getting in costume finally came the moment for dance. We had been long awaiting dance ever since the very first practice. Our committee worked tirelessly to infuse dance moves with infectious Christmas spirit. Getting out on the gym floor, dancing around, made me feel cheery and produced the most gigantic smile across my face. I knew the entire time that our dance was something special, and had a chance to win.
The last event of the week was Saturday Gym Meet. This was a bittersweet day because it included my last moments of sophomore Gym Meet yet also had many accomplishments in store. We began the night the same as the previous one, but with much more determination. We were dedicated to doing the best we could and to bringing home a plaque. The time for announcing the winners had come, and I could feel the tension in the room. Silence came when Molly came to the podium to inform us about who had won. My heart was beating out of my chest and I couldn’t contain my excitement. The cheers for classes winning their plaques roared on but when the dance plaque was to be announced the sophomore class fell silent. They announced that the sophomores had won the dance plaque and the class broke out in cheers and cried tears of joy. In that moment our whole class felt a part of something bigger, something that we could all be proud of. It was one of my happiest moments I can remember. It was such a special bonding moment for the class of 2016 and it is something that I will always remember.
Overall our Gym Meet process from an outsider’s perspective might seem a little crazy, but once given an inside look to the spirit and joy it brings, makes the whole process worth it.
Bluenote wishes to thank Natalie and Erin for their heartfelt observations on this cherished tradition. If any other NDP student – past or present – has observations on Gym Meet or just some fond memory you’d like to share, please send them to Bluenote by clicking on the comment box, below. And…congrats Seniors!